As Americans deal with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Virginia Tech massacre, and economic struggles, many are looking to National Day of Prayer events on Thursday as especially meaningful this year.
When we are all together in unity, we can change society, said Gloria Urban, who is organizing a prayer meeting at noon Thursday on the steps of One Government Center. It is the second year in a row for a downtown prayer rally.
Matthew says [in Chapter 16, verse 19] whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in heaven, she said. I really think that s the only way things can be accomplished.
The noon meeting downtown is scheduled to last an hour, with ministers from a cross section of Christian churches leading the prayers, according to Ms. Urban, who is pastor of UpReach Ministries at Foundation Stone Christian Church in Northwood.
I think it is necessary to have a prayer meeting in the heart of the government area, she said. We will be praying for unity and for the city, the state, and the nation.
Another local event scheduled for the National Day of Prayer is the 18th annual Northwest Ohio Community and Business Leaders breakfast, from 7 to 8:45 a.m. at Gladieux Meadows, 4480 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets are $15, available by calling 419-725-7835, or online at www.nwoprayerbreakfast.org.
This year s breakfast gathering will feature a talk by the Rev. Mark Anderson of Lee s Summit, Mo., who will speak on the topic, Transforming a Community. Mr. Anderson is the international director of Impact World Tour, the global Christian organization now in the midst of a 40-event evangelistic outreach in Ohio and southeast Michigan.
The National Day of Prayer traces its roots to 1775 when the Continental Congress issued a proclamation that set aside a day for prayer.
In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and in 1988 the law was amended to designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer (www.ndptf.org).
President Bush issued a proclamation April 20 designating Thursday as the day of observance for the annual event.
A prayerful spirit has always been an important part of our national character, and it is a force that has guided the American people, given us strength, and sustained us in moments of joy and in times of challenge, Mr. Bush said in the proclamation. On this National Day of Prayer, we acknowledge God s grace and ask for his continued guidance in the life of our nation.
In making his proclamation, President Bush included people of all religious traditions.
I ask the citizens of our nation to give thanks, each according to his or her own faith, for the freedoms and blessings we have received and for God s continued guidance, comfort, and protection, he said.
Contemporary Christian band BarlowGirl s members, sisters Rebecca, Alyssa, and Lauren Barlow, are serving as youth ambassadors for the National Day of Prayer. The Barlow sisters recorded the song We Pray, with several other Christian artists, to commemorate the prayer day. It can be heard online at www.ndptf.org, click on the youth button.
But the call to prayer by government leaders is opposed by at least one group, the American Humanist Association, which calls it an annual abuse of the Constitution.
In response to what it views as a violation of the separation of church and state, the AHA has proclaimed Thursday as A National Day of Reason (www.nationaldayofreason.org).
Nontheistic Americans (including freethinkers, humanists, atheists, agnostics, and deists), along with many traditionally religious allies, view such government-sanctioned sectariaism as unduly exclusionary, the organizers said in a statement.
They said the goal of a National Day of Reason is to celebrate reason a concept all Americans can support and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.